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Ukraine Is at War. Here Is Some Important Advice for Maintaining Your Mental Health During This Critical Time

Ukraine Is at War. Here Is Some Important Advice for Maintaining Your Mental Health During This Critical Time

Polina Vernyhor
Ukraine Is at War. Here Is Some Important Advice for Maintaining Your Mental Health  During This Critical Time

War doesn’t just bring ruined buildings, wounds and death. It leaves its mark on all of us. You can assure yourself that all is well, but for five days now you have been experiencing continuous stress – even if you’ve been evacuated on the first day. Zaborona has gathered advice about how to deal with fear, alarm, panic attacks, exhaustion, feelings of guilt, how to explain to a child what war is, and how to help others.

I Am Suffering from Depression, Panic, and Other Mental Problems: What Can I Do?

First of all, take your medications on time. Try to take them always at the same time. If possible, stay in touch with your doctor. If you see that your medications are running out and your nearest pharmacy does not have them, try to find similar ones. You can also reduce the dose so that they will last longer – but this should be done only on the advice of your doctor.

If your symptoms are becoming more acute contact a specialist. Many doctors are consulting without charge. If you can not find one, call the hotline at 7333 or write to the chat at this site.

Sleep as much as you can if you are in a relatively safe place. If you have ways of dealing with stress, use them. If not, try listening to music, watching television, sex, meditation or sport. Keep in touch with friends and relatives.

Prepare a note with the details of your condition, necessary medicines and telephone numbers where you can ask for help. If you are under attack in a shelter give that note to someone also there.

I Feel Guilty That I Am Safe. Is That Normal?

Yes, completely. At the moment there are many calls on social networks for people to help those suffering, soldiers, evacuees and those who need to be evacuated. If you realize that you are currently not able to help them, do what you do best: if you write well, join the SMM divisions of volunteer initiatives or news providers. If you’re a good organizer, join coordination teams, if you cook well, help at a volunteer kitchen. If you have many contacts in social networks, repost these questions for help.

Ukraine Is at War. Here Is Some Important Advice for Maintaining Your Mental Health  During This Critical Time

If you don’t feel that you have the strength to engage, this is normal. Remember that you and your safety are most important. No one will judge you for having chosen evacuation instead of staying in your city.

Do not let your distress turn into „survivor’s guilt“ , a part of post traumatic stress syndrome which used to be considered a separate problem. This is a chronic state which can follow you after the war.

Allow yourself to experience the entire spectrum of emotions: fear, sadness, despair and sorrow. But return your attention to life with new goals and a search for the sense in what you are doing. Remind yourself that you did not start the war and , if you had stayed in your city, it would be unlikely that anything would have changed.

Avoid large quantities of alcohol or drugs. Eat regularly and don’t ignore your experience and feelings.

I Feel Extreme Exhaustion and Lack of Strength. How Do I Get Rid of That?

This is also completely normal. At the moment your body and mind are undergoing daily stress. Exhaustion will only be increasing so it is important to listen to your needs and not do things simply because they are necessary. Get enough sleep, but if you don’t want to sleep, don’t force yourself. Try to eat regularly and eat what you can and what you like.

Also, drink enough water. Try to avoid energy drinks, coffee, black tea. If you can’t avoid them completely, cut down. Wash yourself regularly, change your clothing and air out your living quarters.

It is important to create a modicum of comfort where you spend most of your time. Take pillows and warm blankets to your shelter. Take something that has no practical use but will give you a feeling of home. This could be a soft toy, a photo of your family, a poster, a favorite cup or even a house plant. But whatever it is, it should not hinder you from moving to another place quickly.

How Do I Explain to a Child That a War Is Going On?

You should tell the truth and not use metaphors like „we’re taking a trip to Lviv“ or saying that sirens are „just checking communications“. Children have a right to know what is happening. If you lie or do not give your child enough information, your child will use its imagination to explain what is happening, which can cause psychological harm.

Your insecurity is very traumatizing to your children. Try not to show your fear to your children. They need to know that there is someone there to protect them. That is why it is necessary, especially in times of danger to reassure a child with „I will protect you“ „ we won’t allow anything to happen to you“, „I’m right here with you and, together, we’ll get through this.“

You need not explain the reason for the war. You can use the terms “ours“ and “theirs“. If you offer more detailed explanations a child can get the feeling that everything is terribly complicated and you, yourself, are not confident in the future.

If you or your husband or wife are going to fight in the war. Do not hide the fact. You should, however, calm the child by saying that you will soon conquer all enemies and will return. Again, you need to show confidence.

How Do I Cope with Fear and Anxiety?

First, observe your breathing. If you notice that you are clenching your jaws or that your collar bones or shoulders are raised, try to transfer that feeling down to your belly. Try to breathe in a “square”: inhale and count to five, stop, exhale, stop.

If you notice that a panic or serious anxiety attack is beginning, try to concentrate on objects that surround you. Name out loud things that you see: furniture, objects. If that doesn’t help, concentrate on one object and try to describe it with adjectives. For example, this is a table . It is heavy, wooden, brown, solid with silvery insertions and drawers. Keep naming adjectives until you are calm.

Talk about your fears to someone you trust. It is important that the listener does not judge or belittle your feelings. It is completely alright to be afraid in time of war. But to become calm it is important to put the fear aside and that happens when we talk about it.

Distract yourself by doing things you like. You may think that painting, sculpting, writing poetry or singing is inappropriate. But this removes anxiety and replenishes your emotional energy.

How to Help a Person Who Is Having a Panic Attack

First, you have to be present to gauge how the person in that condition could harm themselves. Listen to the person and do not judge them. Do not use phrases like „control yourself“ but assure them that you will stay with them and not leave.

If possible, take the person out into the fresh air. If not , have them sit or lie down and give them a drink of water. Maintain body contact. Take their hand or embrace them if your relationship to the person allows it. Touching is important for the person to return to feeling their own body. Ask what they are feeling bodily.

Keep your tone under control and speak with confidence so that you will not appear to also be in panic. Try to breathe together with the person and transfer the breath to the belly.

Should You Try to Calm Someone Who Is Crying?

Probably yes. In such a situation a person should not be left alone but each case should be judged on its own. Remember that in war time we are all trying to keep together. We are alone in this and help each other in a difficult hour. So if a person you do not know is weeping at a shelter, try to support them by talking about their fears and experiences. Try to help them if you can.

Ukraine Is at War. Here Is Some Important Advice for Maintaining Your Mental Health  During This Critical Time

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